Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia, is a country located in the northwestern region of South America. Colombia is bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil, to the south by Ecuador and Peru, to the North by the Atlantic Ocean - through the Caribbean Sea, and to the West by Panama and the Pacific Ocean.
Colombia is the 26th largest nation in the world and the fourth-largest country in South America with an area seven times greater than that of New England and more than twice that of France. Its vast territory is made up of diverse physical contrasts ranging from the towering snowcapped peaks of the Andes, the hot and humid plains of the Amazon River Basin, and a vast tropical coastal plain in the north. It is the second most populated nation in South America (after Brazil), and the largest Spanish speaking nation on the continent in terms of population. Despite its large territory, Colombia s population is not evenly distributed with most Colombians living in the mountainous western portion of the country as well as the northern coastline - most living in or near the capital city of Bogotá. The southern and eastern portions of the country are mostly sparsely inhabited tropical rainforest and inland tropical plains containing small farming communities and indigenous tribes. Colombia is considered to be among 17 of the most megadiverse countries in the world.
After experiencing decades of steady growth (average GDP growth exceeded 4% in the 1970-1998 period), Colombia experienced a recession in 1999 (the first full year of negative growth since 1929), and the recovery from that recession was long and painful. Colombia s economy suffers from weak domestic and foreign demand, austere government budgets, and serious internal armed conflicts. The IMF Economic Indicators published in September 2006, forecast the Colombian GDP to reach US .69 billion in 2008. Inflation has been below 6% for 2004, 2005, and 2006. Colombia s main exports include manufactured goods (41.32% of exports), petroleum (28.28%), coal (13.17%), and coffee (6.25%). Colombia is one of the largest producers of pop-up books in the world :).
A coffee farmer meticulously sorts coffee beans near Armenia, Quindío. Colombia is also the largest exporter of plantains to the United States. Within Latin America, Colombia is known as a provider of fine lingerie, with the industry being centered in Medellín. All imports, exports, and the general trade balance are in record levels, and the inflow of export dollars has resulted in substantial revaluation of the Colombian Peso. (1930 COP = 1 USD ). The problems facing the country range from pension system problems to drug dealing to high unemployment. Several international financial institutions have praised the economic reforms introduced by current President Álvaro Uribe, which include measures designed to bring the public-sector deficit below 2.5% of gross domestic product (GDP). The government s economic policy and its controversial democratic security strategy have engendered a growing sense of confidence in the economy, and GDP growth in 2003 was among the highest in Latin America.
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